Greetings from aboard the good ship 'Grey Pearl'!
First off THANKS to many of you who have kindly written inquiring about us and the boat in view of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. We are fortunately well on our boat in Hong Kong harbor which was unaffected by the events in Japan. We are horrified by the extent of the tragedy in Japan, magnified for us as we visited and stayed in the hardest hit areas over the last two years. We vividly remember the beauty of the land and water and the warmth of the people. Our hearts and prayers go out to these same people who are now suffering so.
A short time ago we arrived in Hong Kong having stopped in Narita/Tokyo airport just days before the earthquake. Soon after arrival we moved the boat across hectic Hong Kong harbor to a boat yard for some scheduled maintenance work. Regardless of the heavy shipping and boat traffic, we had a beautiful day to cruise along downtown Hong Kong via the harbor.
The yard where the boat was hauled out was quite an experience! After clearing a large breakwater there were dozens of sampan & junk boats anchored with many rafted off to each other - like running an obstacle course. We spotted the fellow who helped coordinate the yard work waving to us in the distance. Hard to pick him out because there were Chinese people everywhere hustling about. There's no entrance fairway or standard USA/Euro boat lift to speak ofthey signal us to work our way towards a half dozen rickety pilings. I'm on the foredeck wondering whether I should have lines ready or fenders, or really, what's going on?? Nothing else to do but ease on in and see what happens then suddenly lines are thrown over the rails and a small Chinese army scrambles on aboard, grabs the lines they threw and secures them. Immediately divers appear on either side of the boat and dive to make up underwater supportsin spite of the apparent chaos they seemed to know what they were doing. They rigged the boat up to a series of cables beneath the water and before long we were being slowly moved out of the water on a platform lift.
Entering Chinese boat yard - looks like a boat is already in our spot!
Bring her up! Not a fancy hoist but hopefully reliable?? Diver with hitech support blocks.
Harbor sampans & junk boats. "New Hong Kong" in background.
When the commotion and loud shouting subsided we realized the haulout went rather smoothly and that was my cuetime to get off the boat, make tracks for downtown, check into our hotel and pick up my college buddy, Carrie later that day. Not so fast! I had to actually get off the boat and with much trepidation watched several Chinese men setting up a wobbly ladder leading to a very narrow plank leading to another unsteady ladder to a slightly wider plank to and a large step down to the dock. It was the only way off, so I made my move. I managed to get myself on the dock without crashing down but no way could I get my suitcase off. Remember the deck of the boat is out of the water about 30 feet in the air. Priceless was the look on these Chinese men when they saw 'round-eyed' lady's beeg suitcase! They rigged it to a hoist and lowered it down for me the only way I would have ever gotten it.
Old Chinese proverb..."a happy wife...is a happy life"...:) - lowering the precious luggage!
Chinese Boss man! You know he is the head guy because he is the only one that rates the megaphone - everyone else just yells.
Then I was on my way, leaving the yard work to Braun and the Chinese workers. Here is what they did and why.
The reason you haul a boat out of the water about every two years is to inspect and repair any damage to the bottom. Also it is necessary to paint the bottom with antifouling paint to keep the marine growth off it. If you don't do this the bottom acts as a culture dish and grows everything the sea has to offer which severely limits the boat's ability to move through the water. See the pictures below.
So the hull bottom was scraped clean and fresh paint applied. All of the underwater metal (thruhull fittings, props, struts, shafts, etc.) was taken down to bare and primer and metal antifouling paint applied. Then the zincs which prevent electrolysis were replaced. Finally the above water line hull was cleaned, compounded, and waxed. Fortunately no damage was discovered, somewhat remarkable because of the distance covered and water cruised in the last two years - Seattle to Hong Kong via Canada, Alaska, Russia, Japan and Taiwan - providing plenty of opportunity to hit something, run aground, foul on fishing gear, etc.
The "Before" picture of the 'Pearl', see the growth on the hull and note the ricketey ladder(s)! The only way on/off the boat!
Goodies growing on critical parts... this is the raw water intake for the main engine - kinda important! Notice how thin the grill slots are in the picture above. What could possibly get inside them? Answer, see below at "Grill".
Lots of growth on the keel coolers.
Sluggish bow thruster...lots of growth...
"Grill" - When working on the bottom we noticed something unusual and mysterious large, mature clam like creatures INSIDE the thin grill area. These grills cover holes on the underside of the boat below the waterline.. these holes permit water to enter the boat on a controlled basis for desired purposes - for example to cool the engines. On the outside of these holes there are the grills so that debris, marine life, etc. don't get sucked into the holes and clog up the hoses. How then could full grown clams with hard shells, one inch thick and the size of a sliver dollar be on the inside of the grills? Only one explanation they got in when they were very tiny and grew to adult size inside feeding off the flow of nutrients being sucked in. Unfortunately for them it was a "Hotel California" and the only way they got out was to be broken up with an ice pick and the pieces blown out with an air gun.
Trust me...a happy Captain is a happy life! Nothing like a clean and freshly painted hull!
This is the bulbous bow of the Pearl. The hull is shaped this way to provide an improved aqua-dynamic entry through the water reducing friction along the rest of the hull permitting increased speed and fuel economy. It also helps to reduce the pitching motion of the boat.
The empty hole is for the bow thruster which you cannot see because the blades/props have been removed for cleaning and painting.
After the work was all completed in just over 5 days, we were told to prepare for "launch". This is normally a slow methodical process of gently lowering the boat back into the water. Ahhh, but not so in China! The foreman shouted into the megaphone in Chinese something like "let er go". Obeying the order, the cable man let loose the brake, the cable ran free and the Pearl slid very rapidly down the railway and back into the water - rightfully known in nautical circles as "splashing".
We returned through the crowded Hong Kong harbor to our comfortable berth at Gold Coast Marina and are now enjoying the opportunity to see more of Hong Kong especially as the weather is so comfortable in this early springtime. Braun is hanging out on Friday nights in Suzy Wong's Wan Chai district with all the other "sailors". His favorite bar is a seaman's dive called The Old China Hand. He says its the kind of place where you only order bottled beer and watch them take the cap off. On our date nights he takes me to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel top floor bar or to One Peking Aqua. Both have gorgeous views of nighttime Hong Kong, and I don't have to watch them take the cap off the wonderful cocktails.
Soooo... it's time to get the rest of boat ship-shape before we set off with fellow GSSR buddy boat, "Seabird' for the Philippines in early April. Our other GSSR buddy boat, 'Sans Souci' (Ken & Roberta Williams) shipped off last Sunday on a freighter to Turkey. It was sad to see her gowe've had a wonderful 2 years of cruising with them. Our plan is to re-unite in the Eastern Med. next year.
Bye-bye 'Sans Souci'...see you in Turkey!
Any cruising blog would be remiss if it did not recognize the incredible voyage made by our friends Scott & Mary Flanders in their boat N46 'Egret'. They just completed a circumnavigation crossing their outgoing track in the Canary Islands. This was an extraordinary voyage as it took them around all 5 southern capes - probably the first small power boat to do so. An amazing feat!
So that's it for now. We will post another update soon as we will be crossing the South China Sea. Until then we say so long from Hong Kong! Or Heung gong, meaning "fragrant harbor".
Tina & Braun Jones
p.s. Last night we celebrated Carol Argosy's birthday enjoying cocktails at the famous Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club...thank you, Milt Baker! and dinner out at...of course, a wonderful Japanese restaurant.
The RHKYC is one of the oldest and most prestigious yacht clubs around...over 160 years old.
Sayonara for now -